JOY part 36

The rest of the day was uneventful. We checked out of the hotel and drove back making inane small talk about bullshit (which I guess is why it’s inane). I drove. No, not because I insisted. Honestly, at that point, I didn’t really care. In fact, I was tired and my knee still hurt, so I kind of wanted her to. But Ann didn’t want to drive, either.

We got back to Backwater, Wisconsin a little after eight. I pulled into the driveway and parked. We had to step to the back to open the hatch. I handed her her bag and she kissed me on the cheek. On The Cheek! Talk about pain. Talk about rubbing it in. Then she thanked me for a great weekend and walked back to her house. I stood there watching that beautiful ass saunter away, forever. I needed to leave. Madison was just not really working for me right now.

As I drove down “Willow Lane,” or some other painfully named street in Ann’s “complex,” I tried to picture what my life would be like if I had never left. Would Ann and I have already “dated?” Not that I really ever understood what that term meant. Would we have gotten married and lived in a “Mock-Tudor?” Would she want kids? She would, wouldn’t she? I would be stuck here in Bovineville, in a Mock-Tudor, with two kids and a wife that wouldn’t have sex with me. I think I have just described the seventh circle of hell.

Although I was relieved at how hellish life might have been in some warped parallel universe which I had escaped, I was still furious about the list. The list which had on it the following: “Sleep with Ann.” Not done. Grand Plan, My Ass! The whole list was just becoming a way to remind myself how hopeless I really was and that the world wasn’t exactly going to miss me when my life came to an end. Sound too dramatic for you? Well, Fuck You. You hadn’t just spent an entire weekend being rejected by a girl you really wanted to be with. Yeah, that’s right, poor me. Say it again. Poor me. Or is it “you” to you because you’re talking about ME? Whatever.

I mellowed a bit as I drove along the near-empty streets of Madison. My mom was still up when I got home. I briefly told her about my trip and the Art Museum. My Mom was more interested in my relationship with Ann. I told her we were “just friends.” It hurt me more than you will ever know to hear myself utter those words out loud.

I tried calling Nancy to vent and bitch and all the things I like to do so much to her. Well, the ones I was allowed to do to her, anyway. She wasn’t home. Or wasn’t answering her phone. I never did find out what the deal was the night before when I called. She never called me back. I mean, she couldn’t in Chicago because she didn’t have the number, but she did have My Mom’s. Nothing.

Even though I was tired from the trip and not really sleeping the night before, I was still restless. I felt like going for a walk. In New York I took late-night walks all the time. Just to get out. Just to stretch. Just to think. Where was I going to go here? Walk around the neighborhood? There weren’t even any sidewalks. I would probably get hit by an SUV driven by some baseball-cap-wearing-bonehead driving after too many Budweisers. Or maybe I would be picked up by the police for “acting suspicious.” Walking here would, indeed, be very suspicious. If I were Black or Hispanic I could probably even be shot for it. I really had to get the hell out of here.

“Escape From Madison,” or so the chapter heading would go if I were writing this brilliant, laugh-out-loud, ready-made-for-a-block-buster-movie saga with chapters. Can’t you just hear this story screaming out “Option Me,” “Buy Me,” “Pay Millions of Dollars For Me?” No? That screaming was you crying out in frustration that you picked up this stupid book and now feel compelled to finish it even though you clearly don’t like it? It was, wasn’t it? You really are one of those sick people that will finish a task, no matter how pointless, just because you started it. And once it’s started you have made a commitment to finish the task. And will. No matter what the cost.

Anyway, back to our story…I left Madison the next day. No “good-bye” to Ann. A very brief farewell to the Animals. They sure stink for such little beings. Then again, I’m not one to talk about that particular subject. I wonder if Ann would have slept with me if I didn’t have some of those odor issues I have? Probably. Not exactly a real turn on, I would guess. What do you mean she was out of my league, anyway? I beg to differ. OK, maybe she was. But I do know, for a fact, that I have convinced women of her equal in beauty to do all sorts of fun naked things with me before. Did you really read the first part of this book? Sam? Remember, Sam? She was hot. And my LA-X? She was smoooooookin’.

Which brings me back to Ann. Which, honestly, I’m just getting really tired of thinking about. What do you mean, you’re bored of it, too? Oh, fine. Be that way. We’ll talk about something else for a while, then.

My Mom. My Mom and I said “goodbye.” Lynn was also there but probably didn’t even hear me because the older Animal was acting up. I really wanted to tell them how much they both meant to me and how grateful I was for all they had tried to do for me over the years. Even Lynn with her fake mother act had clearly done so because she cared. Yet, somehow, all I could say was “thanks for everything.” Like “thanks” for the ham sandwich and the place to sleep. I mean, I knew I meant more than that but how could they?

I started to realize this would be the last time I would see either of them. I felt light-headed and almost started to break down right there in the doorway. I turned my back and walked away. There was no way I could do that to them. They would know something was up. It had to look like an accident. It had to look like I died as stupidly as I had lived.

As I got into the Mini and drove off, I only made it about a block before I had to pull over and just stop. I felt the tears in my eyes. No, I wasn’t sobbing. I kind of wished I could but that wasn’t me. Like I said, in spite of the “bloating” comment, I am not gay. Just a tear or two and the feeling of my insides suddenly turning into a violent, silent shaking. I Was Going To Die.

All of which lasted maybe 25 seconds before some well-meaning old bag stopped her Cadillac, right next to me. She stared at me and rolled down her window. I pulled myself together and looked at her fifty-something Germanic face. The years had not been kind to her. She wanted to know if I was alright. How do you answer something like that? More importantly, what the fuck business is it of hers?! No, I was nice. I told her I was fine and thanked her for asking. She nodded and drove off. What a weird place. People just driving around and stopping to ask if you’re alright. Could life get any stranger?

ALWAYS WITH THE JOY (OF SUICIDE). WWW.FIRST100BOOKS.COM

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